The following article appeared in the June 29, 1934, Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Gerritsen Volunteers to Go, Says McElligott
Police Head Refuses to See Delegation After Feud Reaches Climax with Regulars Seizing Equipment Loaned Vamps--Appeal to Mayor
The blazing feud between city firemen and the volunteers of Gerritsen Beach was unextinguished today as it became known through the section that Fire Commissioner McElligott had refused to see a delegation of the volunteers and residents supporting them. The committee intended to ask the return of equipment taken from Brooklyn's only active vamp organization in a surprise "raid" Wednesday afternoon. Informed that no help might be secured from the Fire Commissioner, the residents of the section forwarded a telegram to Mayor LaGuardia protesting against McElligott's attitude in the matter and continued with their plans to have 2000 names affixed to petitions demanding that the hose and nozzles taken from the volunteers be given back.
Says Vamps Must Go
McElligott yesterday informed Alderman Joseph B. Whitty that the vamps must go. He said he believed there is no longer any the need for them and that he did not wish to see any committee representing them. To this the volunteers replied last night by conferring with their attorney regarding plans for legal action to prove their right to the use of city hydrants. A test case involving this privilege will be fought in the courts, it was decided. The vamps maintain that their State charter gives them the right to connect their lines to the hydrants, while the city firemen have threatened to have the volunteers arrested if they make such connections.
Mass Meeting Announced
With 800 names already signed to the protesting petitions, it was announced that a mass meeting to discuss defense measures in behalf of the vamps had been called for next Thursday night at the Marine Park Casino, 84 Ebony Court.
Two large trucks and 14 men led by Deputy Chief Ferdinand Butenschoen and Acting Battalion Chief Patrick H. Clancy of the 33rd battalion appeared Wednesday with an official order calling for the return of property previously lent to the volunteers by the Fire Department.
Then, while a crowd of approximately 300 men and women jeered outside, the regulars entered the vamps' firehouse at Seba Avenue and Nova Court and stripped the latter's truck of 1500 feet of hose, five nozzles, a scaling ladder, two hydrant wrenches and a two-way gate valve. For the past ten years the volunteers have borrowed such material from the department's Bureau of Repairs and Supplies. Hose no longer fit for use at high-pressure hydrants has been turned over to the Gerritsen Beach organization by the city.
The firemen were roundly booed as they left the vamps' truck stripped of everything except the supplies purchased by the latter themselves. These included chemical tanks, 100 feet of chemical hose, two hand extinguishers, one extension and one roof ladder and some axes.
Among those standing by the volunteers in their battle are the leaders of the civic groups in the section. These include the local Chamber of Commerce, the Citizens Protective Committee of the area, the Gerritsen Beach Property Owners Association and the Gerritsen Beach Civic Association.
Dispute Arose June 5
The dispute arose on June 5 last when the volunteers beat firemen from Engine Co. 321, Gerritsen Avenue, and Avenue U, to a blaze in a vacant bungalow at 11 Lois Avenue. The vamps charged Lt. Henry E. Joubin of the city Fire Department "insulted" them by ordering their hose disconnected while three of the volunteers were in the smoking building. He was also alleged to have threatened to have them arrested for interference with the city force.
(Courtesy Andrea Eldred)
Last changed: July 27, 2003